ST. LOUIS Marc-Edouard Vlasics inadvertent swipe of a loose puck into his own goal was all the St. Louis Blues needed in a 3-0 win over the Sharks in Game 2 of their first round series on Saturday night at Scottrade Center.
Game 3 is in San Jose on Monday, with the series tied at a game apiece.
The Blues scored a goal in each of the three periods.
The first was gift-wrapped from Antti Niemi and Vlasic just 1:31 after the opening faceoff. A wrist shot from Vladimir Sobotka that should have been cleanly stopped by Niemi, instead trickled behind the goalie. Vlasic, who had time to clear the puck out of harms way, instead knocked it into his own net to give the Blues the early lead.
Sobotka was credited with his first of the playoffs, unassisted.
In the second, T.J. Oshies slick moves resulted in an easy conversion by David Backes. Oshie managed to evade Jason Demers and Patrick Marleau along the boards after skating into the offensive zone, and then made a nice cut to avoid a sliding Joe Pavelski in the circle. Oshie spotted Backes on the other side of the ice, and Backes easily deposited his first of the playoffs at 13:49.
The Sharks werent without their chances, and played an especially effective first period. San Joses top line applied good pressure, and its best chance came with 6:40 left when Pavelski hit the post.
There was a scary moment for the Blues in the second. Jaroslav Halak made a nice save on Marty Havlat on a Sharks rush, but the goaltender was plowed into by his own teammate when Barret Jackman couldnt put on the brakes after a hard back-check. Brian Elliott, the NHLs leader in goals-against average (1.56) and save percentage (.940), entered the game after Halak was able to skate off on his own power.
The switch seemed to give the Blues a jolt, as San Jose went more than six minutes without a shot on Elliott.
The first shot wasnt an easy one, either. Pavelski tried a wrap around, and after Elliott made the save, a five-on-five scrum ensued as Brent Burns and Marleau went digging for the puck. Pavelski ended up dropping the gloves with defenseman Kris Russell with 12:08 to go in the second.
In fact, the game was much more physical and nasty as the Sharks and Blues seem destined to have a long and malicious series.
The Sharks nearly tied the game late in the second on the power play, but Elliott made a toe save on Logan Coutures wrap-around attempt with a minute to go.
San Jose had a brief two-man advantage early in the third, but couldnt convert. Boyles wrist shot his Thornton in front of the net, and later, on a five-on-four, Pavelski was stopped from the slot on a nice set up from behind the net by the captain.
Andy McDonald capped the scoring with a late power play goal in the third.
Elliott finished with 17 saves, while Halak, who recorded the win, had 12.
The Sharks' power play was 0-for-4.